“So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich” (Luke 18:22,23).
WE DO WELL TO REMEMBER THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TEMPORAL WEALTH AND SPIRITUAL WEALTH. It is possible to have one without the other. Consider that there are four categories or conditions of “prosperity” in which we may find ourselves.
(1) Poor, both temporally and spiritually. The person who has no treasures of any kind, either in this world or in heaven, is destitute in the worst possible way. This person is poor inside and out.
(2) Rich, both temporally and spiritually. This sometimes happens, as in the case of Abraham (Genesis 13:2), but it is exceedingly rare. Few of us are exceptions to the general rule that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). The tendency of earthly treasures to steal time and attention that ought to go to God is a tendency stronger than most people can resist.
(3) Poor temporally, but rich spiritually. To the church in Smyrna, Jesus said He knew of their poverty. Nevertheless, He said, “You are rich” (Revelation 2:9). We may lack the wealth that the world enjoys now, but if we’ve obeyed the gospel and are faithful to our Lord, then we’re the possessors of a wealth that time can’t touch, an “inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4).
(4) Rich temporally, but poor spiritually. Unfortunately, this is how many of us who live in the affluent nations of the world would have to be classified. We’ve prospered financially, and yet our souls are starving. We have money, but money is all we have. We don’t see how poor we really are, like the Laodiceans whom the Lord rebuked: “You say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
If the Lord were to tell us to get rid of what we have, what would we do? Would we, like the rich young ruler, refuse to become poor that we might gain the thing that is wealth indeed?
“He is poor who has nothing but money” (Anonymous).